Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 car unveiled by Arrow McLaren SP

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Arrow McLaren SP unveiled the No. 66 Dallara-Chevrolet that Fernando Alonso will attempt to qualify for the 104th Indianapolis 500. The race will take place Aug. 23 on NBC after being delayed three months by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The car will be sponsored by Ruoff Mortgage, which also was on Takuma Sato’s winning entry in the 2017 Indy 500.

“I’m very happy to finally see the car which I will race in the Indianapolis 500. We had to wait longer than usual to release the livery but that means that engines will be starting soon in Indianapolis,” Alonso said in a statement.

Fernando Alonso’s No. 66 entry in the 104th Indianapolis 500 (Arrow McLaren SP).

This will be the two-time Formula One champion’s third attempt at starting the Indy 500.

Alonso led 27 laps before finishing 24th because of an engine failure in his 2017 debut, which also marked his first start in the IndyCar NTT Series.

Alonso failed to qualify for the 2019 Indy 500.

Here’s the release from Arrow McLaren SP on Alonso’s livery for the 104th Indy 500:

Fernando Alonso’s quest for motorsport’s elusive Triple Crown was set to resume more than a month ago at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The universe had other plans, with the coronavirus delaying the race until August.

With NTT INDYCAR SERIES action resuming, excitement is building at Arrow McLaren SP, with reveal of the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

“I’m very happy to finally see the car which I will race in the Indianapolis 500. We had to wait longer than usual to release the livery but that means that engines will be starting soon in Indianapolis,” said Fernando Alonso.

Alonso, two-time Formula One World Champion and double 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, will be making his second attempt at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The Spaniard first ran the Indy 500 in 2017, when he led 27 laps before a blown engine caused him to finish 24th but did not stop him from winning Rookie of the Year honors.

“In 2017, Fernando proved that he can not only compete in the race, but that he can fight for the win,” Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt said. “The livery is great. It represents the colors of Ruoff Mortgage while maintaining the livery design of all the Arrow McLaren SP entries. It’s unlike any entry that we have seen, which will make it easy to spot for fans.”

Ruoff Mortgage is no stranger to the Indy 500, having tasted victory in the 2017 race with Takuma Sato, and the entire company cannot wait to give it another shot with a driver of Alonso’s caliber.

“The livery is sleek and smart and boasts our primary branding scheme with that of Fernando’s brand,” said Mark Music, President & CEO of Ruoff Mortgage. “This design will help the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage car stand out in the crowded field…especially when Fernando crosses the checkered flag. We can’t wait to see it on the track in our own backyard.”

Alonso and his unique livery will join Arrow McLaren SP’s two full-time entries of Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew for the 104th Indianapolis 500 on August 23rd.

“I think it looks great. I think it complements our cars very well,” said Pato O’Ward. “I’m very much looking forward to working with someone who has so much knowledge and so many years in motorsports. I can’t wait to work with each other and push for the strongest package that we can have.”

“Never in my 15 years of racing would I have guessed that I would be racing alongside Fernando as a teammate, let alone at the Indianapolis 500,” added Oliver Askew. “I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from him…not many drivers get that opportunity.”

O’Ward and Askew will surely benefit from a veteran driver with 32 Formula One victories under his belt joining the team, and Alonso looks forward to joining his new teammates.

“I think the atmosphere will be nice with Oliver and Pato, two drivers that I consider really talented,” said Alonso. “I’m confident that Arrow McLaren SP will be competitive. The team has the right experience, well-qualified people, and great resources.”

Alonso’s first shot at the Indy 500 in 2017, and his love for the race, was inspired largely by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who had a vision of getting the famous brand back in the historic race.

“I’m excited that we get to finally show the fans Fernando’s car that he will drive at the Indianapolis 500 this year,” added Zak Brown “It looks awesome and I can’t wait to see it hit the track in August in Fernando’s hands.”

The Arrow McLaren SP team will see plenty of action between now and the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500, taking to the track next this weekend for the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course on Saturday, July 4th at 12:00PM ET on NBC.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”